2016 is being labelled as ‘the year of ISIS’s defeats’ following the group’s sustained losses in Iraq, Syria and Libya.
In Syria, the loss of Kobane city and its surrounding villages between January and March 2015 witnessed the start of ISIS’s spiralling losses in Tal Abyad, Ein Issa and Suluk, triggering further losses into 2016. This year, the group has lost much land as a result of the Euphrates Shield Operations, a Turkish-backed coalition of FSA rebels that has taken many towns in the north of Syria; among these were Jarablus and Manbij, in August, and Dabiq recently in October. Many residents, who suffered at the hands of the group during their rule over these cities, tell of the group’s brutal treatment of civilians.
In Iraq this year, ISIS have suffered sustained losses beginning with Ramadi in February, Fallujah in June, al-Qayyarah in August, Shirqat in September, and Bakhdida/Qaraqosh in October. ISIS’s huge loss of land has not only resulted in shrinking territorial possession, but also in their ability to recruit new members and protect area currently under their control. The International Coalition against ISIL has furthermore claimed that the terrorist group has lost access to revenue and propaganda capacities, not least after the recent deaths of ISIS’s media heads.
And finally in Libya, where ISIS was attempting to turn the country into a hub for jihadism in north Africa, the group has finally been removed from their last stronghold, Sirte, after months of intense fighting.